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PLoS One. 2013 Nov 21;8(11):e81593. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0081593. eCollection 2013.

Gram-positive bacterial lipoglycans based on a glycosylated diacylglycerol lipid anchor are microbe-associated molecular patterns recognized by TLR2.

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CNRS; IPBS (Institut de Pharmacologie et de Biologie Structurale); 205 route de Narbonne, F-31077 Toulouse, France ; Université de Toulouse; UPS; IPBS; F-31077 Toulouse, France.


Innate immune recognition is the first line of host defense against invading microorganisms. It is a based on the detection, by pattern recognition receptors (PRRs), of invariant molecular signatures that are unique to microorganisms. TLR2 is a PRR that plays a major role in the detection of Gram-positive bacteria by recognizing cell envelope lipid-linked polymers, also called macroamphiphiles, such as lipoproteins, lipoteichoic acids and mycobacterial lipoglycans. These microbe-associated molecular patterns (MAMPs) display a structure based on a lipid anchor, being either an acylated cysteine, a glycosylated diacylglycerol or a mannosyl-phosphatidylinositol respectively, and having in common a diacylglyceryl moiety. A fourth class of macroamphiphile, namely lipoglycans, whose lipid anchor is made, as for lipoteichoic acids, of a glycosylated diacylglycerol unit rather than a mannosyl-phosphatidylinositol, is found in Gram-positive bacteria and produced by certain Actinobacteria, including Micrococcus luteus, Stomatococcus mucilaginosus and Corynebacterium glutamicum. We report here that these alternative lipoglycans are also recognized by TLR2 and that they stimulate TLR2-dependant cytokine production, including IL-8, TNF-α and IL-6, and cell surface co-stimulatory molecule CD40 expression by a human macrophage cell line. However, they differ by their co-receptor requirement and the magnitude of the innate immune response they elicit. M. luteus and S. mucilaginosus lipoglycans require TLR1 for recognition by TLR2 and induce stronger responses than C. glutamicum lipoglycan, sensing of which by TLR2 is dependent on TLR6. These results expand the repertoire of MAMPs recognized by TLR2 to lipoglycans based on a glycosylated diacylglycerol lipid anchor and reinforce the paradigm that macroamphiphiles based on such an anchor, including lipoteichoic acids and alternative lipoglycans, induce TLR2-dependant innate immune responses.

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